New Raven UAV miniature gimbaled sensor payload unveiled
AeroVironment has unveiled a new miniature gimbaled sensor payload on the battle-proven RQ-11B Raven small unmanned aircraft system (UAS) at the Army Aviation Association of America Annual Professional Forum and Exposition. The payload is one of four products offered in AeroVironment’s Mantis suite of gimbaled sensor payloads for commercial applications including UAVs, manned aircraft, ground vehicles and watercraft.
According to AeroVironment, the modular payload includes a high-resolution colour and an infrared thermal video sensor, as well as a laser illuminator integrated into a multi-axis sphere capable of continuous pan. The new payload will become a standard component of future Raven systems and will be sold as an upgrade for previously fielded units. Upgrading existing digital Raven systems to accommodate the new payload requires only a software update to each air vehicle and ground control station.
A gimbaled sensor payload enhances the Raven system’s capabilities by allowing a higher level of visual fidelity and continuous observation of an item of interest regardless of the air vehicle’s flight direction. The new payload also replaces two separate Raven system payloads previously required for day and night operation, one containing a stationary electro-optical sensor, the other a stationary infrared sensor. Flight algorithms allow the air vehicle to manage its own flight path based on what the user wants to see, rather than requiring the user to control both the air vehicle and the sensor separately.
Integrating the new gimbaled sensor payload marks the fourth upgrade to the Raven system since its introduction in 2003 and follows the successful introduction of AeroVironment’s digital data link (DDL) to replace the Raven system’s original analogue communication modules.
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